How long does it take for ruler to decompose?

September 4, 2023
min read

Short answer

The decomposition time of a plastic ruler is estimated to be around 500-1,000 years.


The decomposition of rulers occurs when rulers are exposed to external factors that cause their material to break down or degrade over time. Rulers are typically made from materials such as wood, plastic, or metal, each of which has different properties that determine the rate and nature of decomposition. In the case of wooden rulers, decomposition can happen due to moisture, temperature changes, or insect infestation. Over time, wood can absorb moisture and become susceptible to rotting, which weakens its structural integrity. Likewise, fluctuations in temperature can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracking or warping. Insects like termites or wood-boring beetles can also contribute to ruler decomposition by feeding on the wood, creating holes and weakening the overall structure.

Plastic rulers, on the other hand, decompose differently. Plastics are derived from synthetic polymers, and their decomposition process can take centuries. Exposure to sunlight, heat, and certain chemicals can cause plastic rulers to break down slowly. UV radiation from the sun can cause photooxidation, leading to discoloration, embrittlement, and eventually crumbling of the plastic material. Moreover, some plastics release toxins as they decompose, contributing to environmental pollution. Plastic rulers discarded improperly can end up in landfills or oceans, where they take an exceptionally long time to decompose, posing a threat to wildlife and ecosystems.

Metal rulers, such as those made from stainless steel or aluminum, are more resistant to decomposition compared to wood or plastic. However, they can still be subject to corrosion over time. Exposure to moisture, humidity, and certain chemicals can lead to rusting or oxidization of the metal surface. This decomposition process not only affects the ruler's appearance but also weakens its structural integrity. Rust can cause rough patches or pitting on the ruler's surface, making it less accurate for measurements. Nevertheless, with proper care and storage, metal rulers can remain functional for extended periods without significant decomposition.

In summary, rulers made from wood, plastic, or metal can undergo different types of decomposition. Factors such as moisture, temperature changes, insect activity, sunlight, heat, and chemicals can all contribute to the breakdown of rulers. Understanding the specific decomposition processes associated with different ruler materials is crucial for their proper maintenance and disposal to minimize environmental impact.

Is it possible to recycle ruler?

Intresting facts

  • Decomposition is a natural process in which organic materials like rulers break down into simpler substances, mainly due to the actions of bacteria and fungi.
  • The decomposition of rulers primarily involves the breakdown of the plastic material they are made of, often polyvinyl chloride (PVC). However, the rate of decomposition can vary depending on factors such as exposure to sunlight, temperature, and moisture.
  • Plastic rulers can take hundreds of years to decompose fully in a landfill. The decomposition process is significantly slower for PVC compared to biodegradable materials like paper or wood.
  • During decomposition, plastic rulers can release harmful chemicals, including toxic gases and leachates, which can contaminate the surrounding environment.
  • To promote more sustainable practices, alternative options like biodegradable rulers made from plant-based materials are being developed, which can decompose more rapidly and have reduced environmental impacts.

Summary and final thoughts

The decomposition time of a ruler can vary depending on various factors such as its material composition and environmental conditions. Most plastic rulers, which are commonly made of PVC, can take several decades to decompose completely, contributing to environmental pollution. On the other hand, wooden rulers made from renewable resources tend to decompose more quickly, typically within a few years. It is important to consider the environmental impact of everyday items, like rulers, and opt for sustainable alternatives when possible to minimize their long-term ecological footprint.

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